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44 



MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. 



[Vol. xxi, No. 2. 



46. Teach. I teached it to myself (48th month). 
Yes, I got to be teached (48th month). 

47. Tell. I want some more stories tolden to my 
dolls (42d month). I want to be tolden that 
(43d month). What do you want to be tolden f 
(47th month). 

48. Think. Do you thought we were shut up? 
(42d month). 

49. Wake. We aint half waken up ( 33d month) . 

50. Wear. He never weared two of glasses, he 
only weared one (44th month). 

51. Wet. I want the brush wetten (51st month). 

52. Wind. Winded (36th month) = wound. 
63. Wig. Mittens (cat) wug his tail (47th 

month). This verb "to wig" is a creation of 
her own, based probably on " wiggle." 

54. Wipe. It hasn't been wope yet. (53d 
month). 

55. Write. Have you wroten down trazazo ? 
(47th month). How is C be writen (raitn) ? 
How does C be writen t (49th month). 

These verb-forms fall naturally into several 
groups. 

1. Beated, bited, blowed, buyed, creeped, doed, 
eated, feeled, flied, fulled, getted, gived (div'd), 
goed, hided, holded, lied, maked, rided, runned, 
seed, selled, shaked, shutted, slided, speeched, 
spreaded, standed, stinged, sweeped, swimmed, 
swinged, teached, weared, winded. 

2. Fullded, loseded. 

3. Blewed, helded, rewed. 

4. Drinkt, tookt, stickt. 

5. Blewn, aten, gaven, litten, sawn, tooken, 
tolden, wroten. 

6. Feeden, letten, waken, wetten, writen 
(raibn, not rttn). 

7. Blew, ate. 

8. Came, hod, sled. 

The forms in group 1 are constructed after the 
way of ordinary "weak" verbs in -ed and -d. 
Those of group 2 are " weak " with double suffix. 
Those of group 3 are derived by the "weak" 
suffix from a "strong" preterite form. Those 
in group 4 are "weak" preterites, etc., in -t, 
except tookt, where the -t is suffixed to a " strong " 
preterite form. Those in group 5 are formed 
according to "strong" analogies, — based on 
" strong " preterites. Those of group 6 are made 



by suffixing -en to the present form of the verb 
and not to the preterite. The was are = ' ' were ' ' 
is mi generis; also is be (no. 53). And hod 
deserves to stand apart with wug. Such forms, 
in particular, as fullded, loseded, blewed, helded, 
rewed, tookt, litten, tolden, feeden, letten, wetten, 
etc., are of special interest. The author desires, 
at present, to record, rather than discuss these 
verb-forms and leaves, therefore, detailed con- 
sideration for some other occasion. Wright's 
English Dialect Grammar (Cambr., 1905), which 
he has just examined, records from various Eng- 
lish dialects nearly all the forms listed in this note. 
The common speech of the unlettered adult and 
that of the young child are here, as in many other 
cases, parallel. 

Alexander P. Chamberlain. 

Clark University. 



A DISSERTATION UPON NORTHERN 
LIGHTS. 

To the Editors of Mod. Lang. Notes. 

Sirs : — Wordsworth's outspoken claim that By- 
ron had traded freely in Wordsworthian sentiment 
and diction when he wrote Canto the Third of 
Childe Harold may or may not be dismissed by all 
as an exhibition of " wounded vanity " in a "nar- 
row mind which felt itself eclipsed" (Brandes, 
Main Currents, iv, 43, 44). Possibly the claim 
of a man so much in the habit of weighing 
his statements as Wordsworth deserves a more 
painstaking examination than the brilliant Danish 
critic found time to accord it. Such an examina- 
tion as might now be based partly upon the material 
in Dr. Oeftering's thesis, Wordsworth's und 
Byron's Natur-Dichtung, would tend to show that 
not merely in Childe Harold, where Brandes after 
all sees "striking and vivid" reminiscences of 
the Wordsworthian manner, but elsewhere, and 
frequently, in the later work of Byron unconsci- 
ous gleanings from the "narrow" field of his 
' ' eclipsed ' ' predecessor are more or less apparent. 
The following coincidence in imagery between one 
of Wordsworth's earlier tales and one of Byron's 
later, unnoticed, so far as I can discover, by Dr. 



February, 1906.] 



MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. 



45 



Oeftering, looks like a cage in point. It has not 
escaped the eye of Byron's editor, Mr. E. H. 
Coleridge. 

In stanza xi of Mazeppa, near the beginning, 
Bryon in an abrupt, confused figure alludes to the 
northern lights as giving out a sound of "crack- 
ling" : 

We sped like meteors through the sky, 
When with its crackling sound the night 
Is chequer" d with the northern light. 

Now Wordsworth had already employed this 
same remarkable conceit of an audible aurora, in 
his Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman. 
Indeed, but for some commentary like this prior 
use and Wordsworth's note upon it, we might 
thoughtlessly misconstrue Bryon' s loosely written 
lines, on the supposition that the night, rather 
than the light, made the "crackling." Words- 
worth is explicit. He does not, it is true, per- 
sonally vouch for the reality of a phenomenon 
which he could not test with his own eyes and 
ears, and whose actual occurrence is still among 
meteorologists subject to dispute. Bather, pur- 
suing a method similar to that of Coleridge in 
The Ancient Mariner, he puts the report of this 
supposed freak of nature in the mouth of a deranged 
dreamer. In his note, however, he refers his 
allusion to an authority that he seems to respect. 
The first eight lines of The Complaint, which we 
are to imagine as chanted by a deserted squaw, 
now run thus : 

Before I see another day, 
Oh let my body die away ! 
In sleep I heard the northern gleams ; 
The stars, they were among my dreams ; 
In rustling conflict through the skies, 
I heard, I saw the flashes drive, 
And yet they are upon my eyes, 
And yet I am alive ; 



In earlier versions, lines 5, 6 were printed : 

In sleep did I behold the skies, 
I saw the crackling flashes drive. 

For the local coloring in these lines Wordsworth 
was dependent upon Samuel Hearne's Journey 
from Prince of Wales's Fort in Hudson's Bay, to 
the Northern Ocean, a book which both Coleridge 
and he must have read about the same time (1797), 



and which he may have borrowed from Coleridge. 
A copy (Dublin, 1796) used by the latter is said to 
be in the possession of Dr. James B. Clemens, of 
New York City ; the ' ' marginalia on the fly-leaf ' ' 
mentioned by Dr. Haney (Bibliography of Cole- 
ridge, p. 115) might furnish a clue to its private 
history. 1 In connection with his "Ballad-tale," 
The Three Graves, (Poetical Works, ed. Campbell, 
p. 590), Coleridge speaks of " Hearne' s deeply 
interesting anecdotes of the Copper Indians," with 
a recommendation that the reader consult the 
original. In his note to The Complaint Words- 
worth cites "that very interesting work, Hearne's 
Journey," as follows ; 

"In the high northern latitudes, as the same 
writer informs us, when the northern lights vary 
their position in the air, they make a rustling and 
a crackling noise." . . . 

He evidently has in mind a passage in Hearne 
which I quote from the London edition of 1795 
(p. 224) : 

"I do not remember to have met with any 
travellers into high northern latitudes, who re- 
marked their having heard the Northern Lights 
make any noise in the air as they vary their colours 
or position ; which may probably be owing to the 
want of perfect silence at the time they made their 
observations on those meteors. I can positively 
affirm, that in still nights I have frequently heard 
them make a rustling and crackling noise, like the 
waving of a large flag 2 in a fresh gale of wind." 

Not to burden the pages of Mod. Lang. Notes 
with too much physical science, I may yet for the 
sake of comparison transcribe a few sentences from 
a standard work, Angot's Aurora Borealis (New 
York, 1897, pp. 46, 47), showing recent opinion 
about this alleged occurrence, and offering further 
commentary on Wordsworth and Byron : 

1 1 observe later that Wordsworth's library in 1850 con- 
tained a copy of Heme in the edition of 1795 ; and for 
other reasons I am now inclined to think that Coleridge 
may have learned of the book through Wordsworth. 

2 Compare (?) Coleridge, Ancient Mariner, lines 313-317 : 

The upper air burst into life I 
And a hundred fire-flags sheen, 
To and fro, they were hurried about ! 
And to and fro, and in and out, 
The wan stars danced between. 



46 



MODERN LANGUAGE NOTES. 



[Vol. xxi, No. 2. 



"Sound of the aurora. — Another physical phe- 
nomenon about which there is considerable disa- 
greement is the sound which, according to some 
observers, sometimes accompanies the aurora bore- 
alis. 

It is a very general belief in certain countries — 
for instance, in the Orkneys, in Finmark, and 
among the Indians of the territories round Hudson 
Bay — that the aurora is accompanied by a par- 
ticular sound, somewhat resembling the rustling 
of silk. The Lapps, who also believe in the exist- 
ence of this sound, compare it to the ' cracking ' 
which may be heard in the joints of the reindeer 
when in movement. A great number of trust- 
worthy observers maintain that they have dis- 
tinctly heard this sound during very vivid auroras. 
Others, on the contrary, have never remarked any 
sound which in their opinion could reasonably be 
attributed to the aurora ; we must note, however, 
that purely negative results cannot be set against 
a single positive and certain fact." 

The observations which M. Angot seems to heed 
in this connection are subsequent to the account in 
Hearne. It is not impossible, of course, that 
Byron drew his information from some other, 
earlier source, as it is not impossible that he had 
read Hearne, 3 for he was both a traveler and a 
reader of travels. Is it not more likely that he 
involuntarily hit off the cadence of Wordsworth's 
Complaint ? There is a certain similarity in his 
jingle. 

A flitting note like the present may at least 
conclude where it began, with a suggestion about 
Wordsworth's mental caliber. This may be gaged 
more accurately by the measure of a serious record 
like The Prelude, which the author of Main Cur- 
rents has hardly consulted enough for a proper 
understanding of his man, as by undue attention 
to the small talk of Moore and Emerson. How- 
ever limited Wordsworth's horizon may have 
appeared to Emerson in 1833, or to an admirer of 
Nietzsche and Byron many years later, his con- 
ception thirty years earlier of what a poet ought to 
see and do was not restricted. Witness The Pre- 
lude toward the end of Book Fifth (lines 523 ff. ) ; 
in spite of a grammatical hitch the mental sweep 
of the passage is untrammeled : 

Ye dreamers, then, 
Forgers of daring tales ! we bless you . . . 



. . . we feel 
With what, and how great might ye are in league, 
Who make our wish, our power, our thought a deed, 
An empire, a possession, — ye whom time 
And seasons serve ; all Faculties to whom 
Earth crouches, the elements are potter's clay, 
Space like a heaven filled up with northern lights 
Here, nowhere, there, and everywhere at once. 



Lane Cooper. 



Cornell University. 



"He might have known about Hearne through Edward 
Ellice, who was connected with the Hudson's Bay Company. 



THE PEOLOGUE OF Sir Orfeo. 

Sir Orfeo, 1 one of the most charming among the 
middle English romances, has received a good 
deal of attention at the hands of scholars : it has 
been conclusively shown that it is a translation 
from a now lost French original, and its points of 
contact with varied Celtic legends have been made 
the subject of careful study. 2 Its opening lines, 
however, which do not constitute a part of the tale 
itself, have been generally left out of account, 
except in so far as their probable source has been 
— with every reason — sought in the lais of Marie 
de France. 8 Their purpose is to give us an ac- 
count of the origin of the so-called Breton lays. 
It may repay us to examine them a little more 
closely. 

In the first place, are we right in ascribing 
them to Sir Orfeo f As far as I know, this point 
is still undecided. These lines are found in only 
two out of three manuscripts, in which Sir Orfeo 
has come down to us, and, on the other hand, they 
are almost identical with the beginning of the Lay 
le Freine* (which is, as is well known, a trans- 
lation of one of Marie's Lais). To which of the 
two poems did they originally belong ? The evi- 
dence of the manuscripts is quite inconclusive, as 
the Auchinleck manuscript in which these lines 
are wanting, is by no means in a perfect state of 

1 Sir Orfeo, ein englisches Feenmarchen aus dem Mittel- 
alter, hgg. von Dr. Oscar Zielke, Breslau, 1880. 

2 See especially Kittredge, Am. Jowrn. of Philology, vn, 
176 ff. 

s Zupitza, Engl. Stud., x, p. 42. 

4 Published by Varnhagen, Anglia, in, 415 ff.